People First groups come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one size fits all for organizing a local chapter. Every chapter is unique and how the group is organized depends on its members. Here are some basic points to keep in mind. Be sure to visit the links to the left to download resources for your chapter.
A People First chapter begins when a group of people with developmental disabilities decide to get together to learn to speak for themselves and share ideas, friendship and information. Starting a chapter helps members learn and use a process for working together and getting things done.
Requirements for Approval to be an Affiliated Chapter of People First
1. The title of People First must be in the name of your chapter.
2. You must run your chapter using the five guiding principles:
• Run BY and FOR people with Developmental Disabilities
• Know your rights and responsibilities
• Speak up for yourself
• Solve problems and make decisions for yourself
• Contribute to your community
Principles To Remember
1. The chapter belongs to the members
The most important thing to remember when starting a People First chapter is to be sure that the members have control and power right from the beginning so that the chapter belongs to the members.
This means that members must be able to decide and determine when and where the group meets, who the helper is, and what goes on in the meetings.
2. Starting a chapter takes time
Starting a People First chapter takes time. It takes careful planning and thinking and a lot of discussion. It is important that everyone understands what People First and self advocacy are and why they want to form a chapter.
It is important to take enough time so that everyone understands what is going on and is able to participate in getting the chapter started. Start small and set realistic goals.
It is important to have success right at the very beginning so everyone will feel good about the group and themselves.